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Heat Alerts May Come Too Late in Northern States

TUESDAY, March 5, 2019 — Hospital admissions for heat-related health problems increase in northern states long before heat alerts are issued, and these higher admission rates occur at lower temperatures than in the South, where people are more used to heat, the Associated Press reported.

The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that heat alerts in northern states are not being issued early enough, Renee Salas, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency medicine physician and researcher at the Harvard Global Health Institute in Boston, told the news service. The study is important in a warming world where the problem of heat illness is only going to get worse, said Salas, who was not part of the study.

In the study, U.S. government researchers analyzed hospital admissions for heat-related illnesses in 22 states over a decade. They found an average of 36,000 such hospitalizations each summer.

The researchers said that when the heat index reaches 85 degrees, there is a noticeable rise in the number of people who go to the hospital with heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, breathing and heart problems, and even diabetes, the AP reported. However, the National Weather Service does not issue its first level of heat alerts in those regions until the heat index approaches 100 degrees.

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Posted: March 2019

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